Music education is an exciting journey of musical intelligence discovery and expression, where the mind and heart come together in perfect harmony. It’s a place where creativity flourishes and imaginations soar, where students can connect with the world through rhythm and melody. And at the heart of this musical adventure are the manipulatives, simple objects that bring life and energy to every note and beat.
Offering many career options for people who have musical intelligence, these also provide students with a tangible and memorable way to engage with the music. Whether it’s tapping on a drum, shaking a maraca, or striking a water bottle, manipulatives bring a level of creativity and expression that is simply unmatched. And best of all, manipulatives make music education a fun and enjoyable experience that students will remember for a lifetime. So come and join us on this musical adventure, and let’s see where the manipulatives can take us!
How can manipulatives help with the music?
Manipulatives can play a valuable role in music education by providing a creative and hands-on approach to learning music, which has made some people popular, all thanks to their musical intelligence! Here are some ways that manipulatives can help with music education:
- Conceptual understanding: Manipulatives can help students physically experience and understand abstract musical concepts such as rhythm, pitch, and dynamics. This can make the learning process more tangible and memorable.
- Active engagement: Manipulatives allow students to actively engage with music, rather than simply listening or watching. This can help students develop a deeper connection and understanding of the music.
- Creativity: Manipulatives can also provide a platform for students to express their creativity and musical ideas. By using manipulatives to create their own music, students can develop their musical expression and individuality.
- Group collaboration: Manipulatives can also be used in group activities for musical intelligence, where students can work together to create music. This can help build teamwork and social skills, as well as promote listening and cooperation.
- Fun and enjoyment: Manipulatives can make music education a fun and enjoyable experience. By using manipulatives, students can connect with music in playful and engaging ways
Simple and accessible manipulatives for music
Manipulatives are the building blocks of music, the tools that help students understand and experience the complexities of pitch, rhythm, and dynamics. So, here are some easily accessible manipulatives for music.
1. Rhythm sticks
Rhythm sticks are an essential manipulative for any music teacher looking to engage students with rhythm and beat. These simple wooden sticks can be struck together to produce sound and are great for teaching basic musical concepts such as timing and coordination.
Students can experiment with different tapping and striking techniques, creating simple rhythms or working together to make more complex patterns. Used in conjunction with other instruments like drums or xylophones, they can add a dynamic layer to any musical performance.
Bells are a melodic percussion instrument as well as a great manipulative, that can produce a clear and distinct pitch. These bells can be used to reinforce concepts like melody, rhythm, and harmony, and also help to develop a student’s sense of pitch.
Students can experiment with ringing different bells in sequence, creating simple melodies, or working together to make complex pieces. When used with other instruments such as xylophones or marimbas, they can reinforce concepts of harmony and add depth to a musical performance.
3. Scarves or ribbons
Scarves or ribbons can be used to teach students about beat, rhythm, and movement. To get started, play some music and ask students to wave their scarves or ribbons in time with the beat.
Encourage them to experiment with different movements, such as swinging, twirling, or tossing the scarf in the air. As they become more confident, have them try to follow more complex rhythms or even create their own movements.
4. Bean Bags
Bean bags are a fun and interactive manipulative that can be used to teach students about rhythm, pulse, and steady beat. Here are some ways to use bean bags in a music class:
- Rhythm patterns: Have students experiment with different rhythms by tossing the bean bags back and forth in time with the beat. Encourage them to try simple duple or triple meter patterns, as well as more complex syncopated rhythms.
- Improvisation: Give students the opportunity to create their own beats and rhythms by tossing the bean bags in different directions. Encourage them to experiment with different tempos and dynamics and to listen to each other to create a cohesive performance.
5. Rhythm blocks
Rhythm blocks are small wooden blocks that can be used as a manipulative to help students understand rhythm and pulse. Here are some ways to use rhythm blocks in a music class:
- Playing simple rhythms: Have students play simple rhythms on the rhythm blocks, focusing on hitting each note in time. This helps students understand the relationship between different rhythms and the role they play in music.
- Accompanying recorded music: Encourage students to play along with recorded music, focusing on playing the rhythm blocks in time with the music. This helps students develop their sense of timing and accuracy and provides them with an opportunity to apply the rhythms they have learned.
- Rhythm analysis: Use the rhythm blocks to help students understand the structure of a song by having them identify the rhythms in a piece of music. Discuss the role of the rhythms in creating the overall sound and mood of the song.
Coins are a simple and versatile manipulative that can be used in music education and activities. Here are some ways that coins can be used as manipulatives:
- Rhythmic patterns: Coins can be tapped on surfaces, such as tables or desks, to create simple rhythms. This can help students understand the basic concepts of rhythm and beat.
- Tempo: Coins can be used to demonstrate the concept of tempo or the speed of the beat. By tapping the coins at different speeds, students can see how the tempo can affect the overall feel of the music.
- Dynamic control: Coins can also be used to demonstrate the concept of dynamic control or the volume of the sound. By tapping the coins softly or loudly, students can see how the volume can affect the overall impact of the music.
7. Water bottles
Water bottles are a common household item that can be used as a simple and versatile manipulative in music education and activities. Here are some ways that water bottles can be used as manipulatives:
- Pitch: By filling water bottles with different levels of water, you can create different pitches or musical notes. This can help students understand the basic concepts of pitch and melody.
- Rhythmic patterns: Water bottles can also be tapped or struck to create rhythm. This can help students understand the basic concepts of rhythm and beat.
- Dynamics: The volume of the sound created by a water bottle can be controlled by the amount of water in the bottle, as well as how it is struck. This can help students understand the concept of dynamic control or the volume of the sound.
8. Empty containers
Empty containers, such as plastic containers or cans, can be used as simple and versatile manipulatives in music education and activities. Here are some ways that empty containers can be used as manipulatives:
- Drums: Empty containers can be used as drums, producing a variety of sounds depending on their size, shape, and material. This can help students understand the basic concepts of percussion and rhythm.
- Pitch: By filling containers with different amounts of materials such as sand, rice, or beans, you can create different pitches or musical notes. This can help students understand the basic concepts of pitch and melody.
- Dynamics: The volume of the sound created by an empty container can be controlled by the material inside, as well as how it is struck. This can help students understand the concept of dynamic control or the volume of the sound.
In conclusion, music education and manipulatives are a perfect match, offering students a unique and creative way to explore and express their musical ideas. They are the hands-on approach to music education, providing students who have inbuilt characteristics of musical intelligence with a tangible and memorable way to connect with the music. They are the key to unlocking our creativity and imagination and the foundation for building a lifelong love of music. So let’s continue to embrace the manipulatives and let the music move us!
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,